“If there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau, 48, told Canada’s Global News on Monday.
Iran admitted over the weekend to mistakenly shooting down Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 last Wednesday because of “human error” — after nearly a week of denying responsibility.
The plane’s destruction came around the same time that Iran launched missiles at two military bases in Iraq that housed American forces.
That missile attack was in retaliation, Iran said, for President Donald Trump‘s deadly airstrike on one of Iran’s most notorious military leaders, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the American government blames for hundreds of American deaths.
“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war,” Trudeau said on Monday. “Innocents bear the brunt of it, and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation, moving forward to reduce tensions and find a pathway that doesn’t involve further conflict and killing.”
Trudeau and other officials have stressed the need for an investigation into the plane tragedy.
He and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, spoke over the weekend and Rouhani shared “profound regret for the shooting down of the aircraft by the Iranian military,” according to CNN.
In an exclusive interview with @DFriesenGlobal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that in his opinion, the "tensions" in the region led directly to the downing of a passenger jet outside Tehran which claimed at least 57 Canadian lives.— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) January 13, 2020
READ MORE: https://t.co/PPWRHEfkvG pic.twitter.com/iUluZ3fm5P
On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, pushed back on Trudeau’s comments, according to Global News.
“There’s no blame here for America. America stood up once again for freedom. Iran went past a red line they had not gone past before killing a U.S. citizen — Iran shot down a commercial airliner, there’s no doubt where the blame lies,” McCarthy said. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Trudeau’s interview.)
Trudeau said Monday that the U.S. didn’t warn Canada about its decision to launch the airstrike on Gen. Soleimani. He said he “obviously” would have liked to have been notified.
The Trump administration has given a series of shifting explanations for why it chose to kill Soleimani, a military action that sparked immediate international controversy and which previous presidents had ruled out as too provocative. Trump officials have also maintained that they took action after learning Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks on U.S. personnel in the Middle East.
“I have spoken to him [Trump] and I have talked about the need to de-escalate tensions,” Trudeau said Monday. “I’ve talked about the tremendous grief and loss that Canadians are feeling, and the need for clear answers on how this happened and how we’re going to make sure it never happens again.”
Trudeau added: “I am hurt like all Canadians. I am angry like all Canadians. But unlike many people I have a job to do that will be able to help these families directly. Getting answers for them is my entire focus right now.”